Morning dawns

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God is within her; she will not be toppled. God will help her when the morning dawns. Psalm 46:5

It’s coming… the morning of my soul. I know it to be true, for He speaks to me through His word. And He helps me along my way. You see, I’ve been reading through my old journal… my first journal. And not coincidentally, it ends on July 19, 2011. Two years ago. And what I find written in my own hand is somewhat condemning. Because I find that I listed out strongholds. And what held me captive two years ago still holds me captive today. In that regard, not much has changed. This morning, I actually wrote out the word strongholds, bolded and doubly underlined. I know what they are. I know what I’m up against. And so, I know what my fight is. But you know… that’s half the battle right there. Knowing.

Do you know what a stronghold is? According to the dictionary, it’s a well-fortified place… a fortress. And so, it’ll take strength to overcome what holds me. Strength that I don’t possess. But, it’s not by human strength that I’ll overcome… and God tells me that He’ll help me. It’s through His strength, that I’ll gain victory. It’s Psalm 46 that gives me hope. I write out the Psalms every day, but I personalize them. I write them out according to how I feel. And you can imagine how encouraged I was when I came across Psalm 46:7 this morning. It was after I had written out my strongholds when I read… The LORD of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. And again, repeated in verse 11, the LORD of Hosts is my stronghold. Yes, it may be true that I have some things to overcome in life. And although they’re strong, He is stronger. He tells me to not fear:

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Some may think, how do you know that to be true. If I am writing about perpetual darkness, and still remain in the same rut I was in two years ago, what’s changed? How has God helped me thus far? And I can answer with assurance, infinitely. Immensely. For within the past two years, I am coming to know my God in a way I never have before. He’s not just something I do or think about at church on a Sunday. He’s with me. He’s real to me. He’s in my thoughts. And He speaks to me… I hear Him when He calls. And despite the bad… the strongholds that still hold me… there is good. So much good. In reading my old journal, I find that I have overcome one of my strongholds. I have gained a victory, and it was through His strength. And so, I am confident that I will gain ground in the other areas of my life. For He is within me. I’ll not be toppled. And it’s His righteous right hand that holds me up.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?  Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39

Do you see? It is Christ who is at the right hand of God. It is Christ who will keep us upright. It is through His strength I can do all things. So I echo what I wrote last night, “Do not rejoice over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will Rise!” Micah 7:8. I know I will. Because when I look back over the course of my life, I can see. I am not who I once was. I have changed. And it’s because of God. No matter how many times I stumble, He lifts me. And the reality is, if I let Him fight the battle for me (rather than in my own feeble strength), victory will come. This is part of the journey… letting God fight for me.

The truth is we have many battles. We have many enemies. This is just life. But He is with us. Let Him fight for us… let Him be our strength:

“Be strong and courageous! Don’t be afraid or discouraged before the king of Assyria or before all the multitude with him, for there are more with us than with him. He has only human strength, but we have the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles.” 2 Chronicles 32:7-8

At the end of your rope

Here lately, words of comfort escape me. Because I look around, and honestly, all that I see is struggle. It seems as if every person in my life is going through something, and this morning my heart breaks. Every person I know is suffering in some way… whether it’s doubt, bitterness, despair, overwhelmed, distrust, pain, disease, or something else… it’s there. All the people I love seem to be coming to the end of their rope. Do you know what that term really means? It’s when someone is at the limit of their patience or endurance. And this sums it up… my loved ones have just about hit the wall. Patience and endurance are running low, and for some reason, I am empty with regard to words of encouragement. As a matter of fact, it’s as if I, too, have come to the end of my rope. And so this morning, I did the only thing I knew to do. I cried. I lifted my voice to God and asked for His help. For me… and for all those that I know who are at the end of their rope. And I heard Him. He said, “Strength.”

It was the end of last week when I read the book of Ruth. She married a man named Boaz, and his name means, “In Him is Strength.” I entered the word “Strength” in my journal, and wondered if this was the word I needed to carry with me for my present season in life. And so now I know… it is. But not just for me… strength for them… and strength for you. Last week I read a blog that pointed to Psalm 27. This particular Psalm holds a special place in my heart because of the fall of 2010. My husband had a job interview with a company located in Northern Virginia and I wanted it bad. So we prayed beforehand, and we happened to use this Psalm. But before we even finished, I knew the answer was, “Not this one.” I knew it deep down because we prayed… “Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD!”

Wait on the LORD and He shall strengthen your heart. Do you know that “wait” means to look for, hope and expect? I didn’t know that till a few years ago. To me, wait simply meant that… wait. But God says not to just wait. He says to look for Him, hope in Him, and expect in Him. He says He’ll strengthen our hearts. And we know (at least in our heads), that there is purpose in the wait. God doesn’t allow us to go through things for no reason. He’s working on us. As we wait on Him, we look to Him. We pray to Him. We ask Him for help… we ask Him for His strength. Because we cannot do it alone. We do not possess the strength to get through life on our own. Remember, it’s “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). It’s “In Him is Strength”, not in me. And so we wait.

It’s recently that I’ve felt a glimmer of excitement. There’s a fresh hope in me. Because God has reminded me of His strength and power. Somehow, I forgot this most important truth. I became weary with my life and present circumstances. But it was yesterday through Psalm 21:1 that He reminded me… there is joy in His strength. It was through Nehemiah 8:10 that He reminded me, the joy of the LORD is my strength. He knew I needed to read this. Because I was coming to the end of my rope. And it’s obvious that all those around me are sliding down to the end of theirs, too. They’ve just about lost their grip in that no endurance remains, and their patience has run thin. They’ve become weary with their trials… they’re tired of their doubt and bitterness, sick of their distrust and despair, they no longer want to feel overwhelmed, and they don’t want to face another day of pain or disease. What LORD, can You offer as a word of encouragement? Because I’ve been feeling down, too. I don’t know that I have the words…

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. There is no searching of His understanding. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases in strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31

I have to smile when I read that last part… they shall run… they shall walk. Today those words have to be specifically for my dear friend. You see, she’s on crutches. And her God wants her to know He sees her. He is telling her that not only will she walk, but she will run. And may we all run. As we wait on Him, may we be expectant! As we wait on Him, may we have hope! And may we endure… because He will provide the strength.

“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27